Showing posts with label mental health problems in children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental health problems in children. Show all posts

Monday, May 6, 2013

Does My Child Have Mental Health Issues?

Children with emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues exist in every community, no matter the income level, educational pedigree of the parents, or racial, ethnic, and religious background. Awareness is important not only because of the prevalence of mental health problems in children but because many parents are unaware that their children have a mental health issue, or don't know what to do when they witness troubling behavior.

This week, May 6-11, is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and this Thursday, May 9, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day – an appropriate time to ask important questions about mental health and your family. 

Mental Health Awareness Day 2013 focuses on the importanceNational Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, May 9, 2013 of social connectedness – a sense of community – in enhancing resilience in young adults ages 16 to 24 with mental health and substance use challenges, while Mental Health Awareness Week seeks to increase public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children's mental health and the importance of family and youth involvement in the children's mental health movement.

The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, spearheading Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, links more than 120 chapters and organizations focused on the issues of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs and their families.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at the center of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services.

Both of these organizations provide support and information to families to help them identify, cope with, and find treatment for children with mental health issues.


How big a problem is children's mental health?


The following statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health  (NIMH) give a brief and alarming glimpse at the problem of mental health in children.
  • About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18 according to the National Comorbidity Survey.
  • About eight percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder, but only 18 percent received mental health care for their condition.
  • One in every 110 children has autism, with boys facing nearly five times higher risk than girls.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – one of the most common childhood disorders – affects an estimated nine percent of 13 to 18-year-olds in the US. The National Comorbidity Survey revealed that an estimated 2.7 percent  of 13 to 18-year-olds  in the United States  struggle with severe eating disorders, such bulimia nervosa , anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorders.


As these statistics reveal, SANHSA and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health have an important mission and a legitimate need for promoting children's mental health awareness.


Are my child's problems serious?


Many everyday stresses can tweak your child's behavior, but may not be a serious mental health sign. According to NIMH and other mental health professionals, things to look for that may be indications of behavior changes that may be associated with more serious problems include:
  • Problems across a variety of settings, such as at school, at home, or with peers
  • Changes in appetite or sleep
  • Social withdrawal, or fearful behavior toward things your child normally is not afraid of
  • Unexplained loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Returning to behaviors more common in younger children, such as bed-wetting, for a long time
  • Signs of being upset, such as sadness or tearfulness
  • Signs of self-destructive behavior, such as head-banging, or a tendency to get hurt often
  • Repeated thoughts of death
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness lacking a concrete reason
  • Unexplained and abnormally extreme fearfulness
  • Frequent anger and other overreactions
If you see these kinds of behavior or circumstances, consult with a health professional, as treatment is available for many common children's mental health problems, such as eating disorders, attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders, depression and anxiety, relationship difficulties, or dealing with grief.

Young boy sitting on a hill


Information on children’s mental health


If you need help with your children, or want to learn more about children’s mental health awareness, check out these resources.
If you want to donate to Children's Mental Health Awareness Week , you can donate at the National Federation’s Facebook page.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer